UTICA — Not often does one hear about one particular business reaching its 100th year in operation. But when it’s a family business that reaches the century mark, it’s an even more remarkable accomplishment.
Reaching that dubious mark of 100 years in business this week is Watts Restaurant at 77 S. Main St. in Utica. The family-owned business was started in February 1912 when Herbert Watts, along with his mother, Mary Ellen, opened the Eagle Restaurant on Main Street in Utica. The modest restaurant was nothing more than a small diner compared to today’s standards. But Herbert ran a fine business which was part of a thriving small town in the early part of the century. “We were comfortable, but we never made a lot of money,” said current owner Steve Watts.
The name was changed to Watts Restaurant in the mid-1930s when President Franklin Roosevelt named the American bald eagle as the symbol of the National Recovery Act. Herbert was not a fan of FDR and immediately changed the name. His widow, Samaria, operated the business after Herbert’s death in 1953. She turned it over to her son, Robert, upon her death in 1978. Along with his wife, Jane, Robert was in charge until his death in 2000, with his son, Steve, taking over the helm until the present day.